I arrived at Silverwood with a very full bladder a few minutes before the advertised opening time. There was a substantial queue of guests stretched across the car park, which turned out to be for a bag check. In an ideal world I’d have been able to bypass this given that I wasn’t actually carrying a bag, but a park security officer told me that everyone was required to wait in line regardless. I decided to treat this philosophically, even though it felt like a guest experience miss; if people don’t have bags then why on earth do they need to wait in an extended queue for a non-existent check? I didn’t see any metal detectors or similar, either, rendering the whole experience almost a dictionary definition of security theatre.
After a much needed comfort break I began my visit for real with Krazy Koaster (#3028), a SBF figure eight spinner added to the park for the 2014 season. At the time of installation the ride concept was completely new, giving the park a unique attraction that the multitudes had never seen before. While this is no longer the case (to put it mildly) the ride remains popular despite throughput best measured using a calendar. I arrived at the front of the line just as a train dispatched, and waited almost a quarter of an hour for my own four-lap cycle to get underway. I’m hoping that what I saw wasn’t the norm, because it’s an exceptionally poor showing: if one assumes a ten hour operational day, fifteen minute dispatches equate to less than 20,000 guests per month – or for preference, what Olympia Looping handles in four hours at Oktoberfest.
Fortunately operations were radically better on Stunt Pilot (#3029). Silverwood’s newest roller coaster can be thought of as v2.0 of the Raptor, a single rail design from Rocky Mountain Construction that took the enthusiast world by storm when it premiered at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and California’s Great America in 2018. The revised hardware has a few minor track profiling adjustments over its predecessors to accommodate a longer ten-car train, but the basic experience is unchanged: a thrilling and intense ride that is well up there with the very best coasters in North America. The ride has also been given some token theming, and while it’s a little on the sparse side it is nevertheless sufficient to upgrade the experience yet further. I enjoyed two back-to-back circuits, only stopping at that point because I’m not twenty any more.
It’s worth pausing briefly to commend Silverwood’s policy on glasses, which can be summarised succinctly as “guests can choose”. There was no issue wearing my strapped glasses on any of the coasters today; the only requirement was that I should acknowledge the operators’ warning and take responsibility myself. This is a nice approach and one that I’d love to see more parks emulate; I’ve yet to ride a coaster intense enough to impact my strapped glasses, so I’m quite comfortable with the risk.
With both of my new credits ticked off the next target was Aftershock, a Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang that once operated at Six Flags Great America. The ride’s placement within the park is perfect; the two vertical towers stand tall at the end of a long straight path, giving guests a unique appreciation of scale. Unfortunately the track quality does not live up to its magnificent appearance; my back seat ride was thrilling but suffered from a very severe rattle that was transferred directly into my head and shoulders by the heavy overhead restraints. That could explain why there was no queue today; regular visitors were clearly spending their time waiting for more comfortable rides. (As an aside, I suspect I may be the only enthusiast on this planet to have ridden all six GIBs in their original homes, as well as both relocations. I am not proud.)
At this point I decided that it was time to renew my acquaintance with the park’s wooden coasters. Both have recently been fitted with sections of 208 RetraK from Rocky Mountain Construction, and while the modified areas are flawlessly smooth the alterations come at the cost of the shake, rattle, and roll that one expects from a good wood coaster – in simple terms, the experience is now much more akin to a modern steel coaster. A fellow enthusiast has suggested that the rides should now be classified as “non-binary”, which seems as good a definition as any for their present state. As with Lightning Rod I suspect the status quo to be temporary; it is almost certainly only a matter of time before they are fully transitioned.
My first hit was Timber Terror, a ride that I described fifteen years ago as a shortened version of Shivering Timbers. Today the overall ride quality was good, if not outstanding. There were a few rough spots in the wooden areas of track, but nothing unmanageable, and the airtime hills were all delivering. Replacement rails could be seen in the turnaround (running from roughly 0:50-1:02 in this video) but aside from that the ride was what I remembered: a solid attraction that’d I’d have done more than once had it not been afflicted with an unnecessary one hour wait caused by five minute dispatch intervals and single train operation.
Tremors is much more of an enigma, as roughly 30 seconds worth of the layout has been replaced with new track (running from 1:05 to 1:35 in this video). This represents just under half of the overall duration from top of lift to brakes. The result is great, and it’s fair to say that some of the areas with original track could do with being upgraded too – but is it still a wood coaster, or is it now as steel coaster reminiscing over the good old days? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Am I a grumpy old curmudgeon for asking the question? Get off my lawn.